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  • Writer's pictureBishop Vince McLaughlin

The Prophetic Significance of Epiphany

Rt. Rev. Dr. Vince McLaughlin, Th.D., D.Litt. Ph.D.

Today, Saturday – January 6th, 2024, we are celebrating Epiphany, the day which commemorates the event described in Matthew 2:1-12.  The Magi are described as coming from the East.  Though three gifts were offered to the Christ Child (approximately 2 years old at the time), it is highly unlikely that only 3 Magi were involved in the celebratory worship of the King of the Jews.  

When the Magi arrived in Bethlehem, “They opened their treasures and presented [Yeshua] with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). The gifts symbolized Yeshua’s mission but also the prophetic profile of Yeshua.  Personally, I also hold to the prophetic fulfillment of Balaam's Messianic Star & Sceptor prophecy in the whole event. 

It is generally agreed in biblical scholarship that the gift of gold represents His role as the Eternal King.  The gold would also provide revenue for the flight and residence in Egypt because of King Herod’s demoniac actions.

As we know, frankincense, mixed with the incense was burned in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle/Synagogue/Temple continually.  Most scholars agree that this speaks of His Deity.

From ancient burial customs, we know that Myrrh was used to embalm and prepare dead bodies for burial.  A strange gift to give to a 2-year-old.  The giving of the myrrh a rather bitter perfume/fragrance is rather prophetic in that it speaks to the salvatory path of Yeshua that leads to His death for our redemption.  

In looking at the word “Magi” we note that it is used in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and provides a wee bit of profile information.  Let us look at the potential locations they could have originated from in the East.  The East could have referred to Persia, Babylon or in general the deserts of Arabia.  

The term “Magi” could be translated as “wise men” or “men of science who studied astrology or astronomy.” They were men of significance and standing given they received an audience with King Herod.  It is highly likely they served as advisors or consultants to a royal court in the East for one of the monarchs.  

We see the word used for Magi in the Book of Job for his friends.  Numbers 22–24 tells how King Balak hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, but God would only permit Balaam to speak words of blessing and prophecy. Part of that prophecy concerned the coming of the Christ, including the foretelling of the star quoted above.

This image would also call to mind the adoration of Christ by the Magi, since it was a star that led them to the nativity. In fact, many Church Fathers wrote that Balaam belonged to the race and profession of the Magi, who would have known to look for the star because of Balaam’s prophecy. Thus, the Magi knew of the birth of Christ from a curse turned into a prophecy.

Of interest, some believe that the Magi practiced Zoroastrianism.  It is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions, having originated in ancient Persia and still is practiced in Iran.  These scholars provide evidence that Balaam’s Star Prophecy figures prominently in their messianic writings.  

The word is also mentioned in 1 Kings 4:30 in reference to King Solomon.  “[Solomon’s] wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East.”   We also know these wise men functioned in the royal courts of Babylon under the direction of the prophetic Daniel (Daniel 2:2, 48; 4:6-7; 5:11).

Zoroastrianism was also quite prominent in Babylon and Babylonian writings probably influenced both by Zoroastrianism and more, so Daniel’s prophecies also included messianic expectations of a Star & Scepter from the line of Jacob.

Isn’t our Almighty God brilliant beyond words. How HE integrates and a revelatory manner HIS redemptive plans even amongst the Gentiles.  Whilst the Gentiles waited for the coming Jewish Messiah based upon prophecy.  

These Gentile men of faith and science looked to the heavens for the Messianic Star Sign to lead them to the object of their worship, The Messiah Yeshua!

When you find Yeshua and HE reveals Himself to you, the only acceptable response is to “bow down and worship HIM!!

Have an awesome Epiphany Celebration.  

​"To fall in love with the Almighty God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.” St. Augustine

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